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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summerfest Daily Highlights: Sunday, July 10

Sugarland, 311 and Todd Rundgren

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Sugarland w/ Sara Bareilles
Marcus Amphitheater, 7:30 p.m.


The Incredible Machine
is the aptly named latest release for the duo of lead vocalist Jennifer Nettles and guitarist Kristian Bush. Founded in 2002 as a trio, Sugarland took off when Nettles assumed lead vocals in 2005. Since then, it's been a straight shot to the top with four studio albums and relentless touring as the opening act for fellow country folks like Brad Paisley, Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban.

Their string of hits includes heartfelt ballads (“Stay”) and whimsical country pop (“Stuck Like Glue”). They definitely like to mash it up, covering the one-hit wonder Dream Academy's “Life in a Northern Town” and having Nettles perform with R&B and pop singer Rihanna on her song “California King Bed” in April at the Country Music Awards. Is it pop? Country? R&B? Don't tell Sugarland what it is—they do it their own way and it sounds just fine, thank you very much.

Opening act Sara Bareilles is a big name in her own right, with three Grammy nominations for two hits, 2009's “Love Song” and 2011's breakthrough “King of Anything.” If you weren't one of the lucky Marquette University students to hear Bareilles perform in the MU Ballroom in April, here's your chance to catch her live. (Harry Cherkinian)

311

Miller Lite Oasis, 10 p.m.


If you owned a radio during the mid-1990s, chances are you heard Nebraska-based 311 on a fairly regular basis. And that was a good thing: Mega-hits such as “Down” and “All Mixed Up,” both from the group's 1995 breakthrough self-titled album, were incessantly catchy, mixing rock, rap and reggae into a smooth blend well before such an aural combination became overdone. Two years later the band released Transistor; this follow-up debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard charts and went on to achieve platinum-selling status. A live record followed in 1998 and the group released another studio record (Soundsystem) the following year.

Despite such a busy late 20th century, 311 has not slowed down much. Since the turn of the century the band has put out another four studio albums, with a new release, to be called Universal Pulse, set for this summer. Early reports say that the band is going for a heavier sound on this record, and the presence of uber-producer Bob Rock (who has lent his talents to such acts as Metallica and Aerosmith) suggests that these reports are correct. Expect an energetic performance that draws from this newer material without overlooking the band's greatest hits. (Michael Carriere)

Todd Rundgren
Potawatomi Bingo Casino Stage & Pavilion, 9:30 p.m.


For those of us old enough to remember the '70s and '80s, Todd Rundgren is a major figure of creativity and influence in the music world, as both a singer-songwriter and producer. He has been classified in a wide range of genres and has worked with artists so diverse as to defy classification (Janis Joplin, Badfinger, The Band, Hall & Oates, Patti Smith and even Shaun Cassidy of the Cassidy brothers). So, what can an audience expect to see and hear at his show? Just about anything, including a generous sampling of Rundgren's own great music. Rundgren as an artist has always been ahead of his time, working in video and computers long before the recording studios had embraced either technology. As a result, his early breakthrough work, 1972's Something/Anything?, contained the hits “Hello It's Me” and “I Saw the Light,” ushering in a lush pop sound filled with catchy hooks and memorable lyrics—Rundgren's sonic trademark.

Best known to the working, TGIF masses is Rundgren's “Bang the Drum All Day.” But there's more to this musical genius than just banging on drums; there's a body of eclectic work that bears hearing again and again. And it's even better live. (Harry Cherkinian)